I’ve always been a little on the paranoid side. It started when I began working for the military back when I was almost 19. There was a lot of reconnaissance/intelligence work being done on the Naval Air Station, and I had opportunities to interact with Navy SEALS, cryptographers, intelligence specialists, naval aviators — but there was a heavy recon presence there. What they said they did and what they really did weren’t always the same.
Being in this environment for almost 6 years rubbed off on me.
Sometimes, I would get a call late at night to open up the facility where I worked. My instructions were to open the door, let people in, and then keep my mouth shut about who was coming and going. I was naturally reticent, so this was easy to do. I also learned to keep my mouth shut about an awful lot of things and this worked its way into my everyday life years later.
If this intrigues you, you may want to read an official Air Force manual outlining their basic OpSec practices.
What I learned about OpSec from these experiences is that:
- It’s not enough to just tell people to be quiet. What other people actually can see becomes part of the issue. If they can see it, they can talk about it.
- This is a biggie. It’s not so much who you tell, it’s who THEY tell. My father-in-law is a great man. He’s kind, generous, and he loves to talk. Every morning he gets together with a group of old men at the McDonald’s near his house. They talk about all kinds of things. Gossip about their families, and, naturally, pass along any interesting tidbits they’ve heard. I’ve always known that whatever he knows could easily be spread among this group of men and, in turn, they’ll almost certainly spread the word on down the line.
- You may confide in someone you totally trust but they may confide that information to someone else not as trustworthy or someone who is unscrupulous.
- Be aware of who’s around you, even if they’re just passing by. Keep an eye out for behaviors that indicate someone didn’t just coincidentally pause near you while you’re talking on the phone or pulling out a credit card.
- Cell phones are notorious for causing people to give out personal information, including things like PIN numbers, addresses, or travel plans as though no one can hear.
- I never throw away anything with personal information, even if that information is benign. I shred things like junk mail, just to mix it up with other mail and documents that I want to keep out of the wrong hands.
Bottom line, stop being so trusting. When it comes to prepping, no one needs to know specifics, including people in your survival or prepping group, if you have one. The other day, my verbose boss, Ronald, said to me, “After 3 years, I still don’t know you, do I?”
I purposely smiled slightly, to add to my mystique, but he’s right. He’s a talker. I’m a listener. OpSec is easiest for us listeners. If you can train yourself to listen at least twice as much as you talk, not only will that benefit you but you’ll gain the trust of those around you. Just my two cents.